You’ve invested in a customized, cohesive marketing campaign. Now the phone is ringing!
Here is the first in a series of 3 tips to make sure you’re not only capturing, but keeping those awesome, hard-won new patients.
A polished, effective marketing strategy will drive the right patients to your door, but it’s up to your team to welcome them in and make them feel at home. The patient experience starts with that first phone call, so make sure your team is equipped and ready to wow.
Tip One: Creating Beautiful Smiles Begins With Yours.
In dentistry, we’re used to conveying our smiles from behind our masks, but we often forget to project that smile through the phone. It’s hectic, it’s almost lunchtime, hygiene is waiting on a doctor exam, the treatment plan isn’t quite right, multiple patients are ready to check out, you’re shorthanded, and maybe you’re still on hold with insurance… Regardless, phone calls are absolutely golden. Each person that calls your office deserves your full attention. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make every patient feel like they’re the most important part of your day. Be welcoming; be concerned; be curious, engaging, and helpful.
But how do you do that when the whole world feels like swirling chaos around you?
Inhale, exhale, pick up the phone, smile, and introduce yourself
Would you want to talk to someone who answers the phone sounding flustered, irritated, and rushed? How do you know you’ve called the right place? Who are you even talking to??
Instead of making your potential new patient (or anyone, for that matter) feel like they’re inconveniencing you, show them how amazing you and your team are. Take a deep breath and let go of the things happening around you, focus on the person on the other end of the line, and do your best to connect with them. Answer calls consistently: “Thank you for calling Dr. Jones’ office, this is Suzy, how may I help you?” or “Jones Family Dentistry, Suzy speaking! How may I brighten your smile?” It sounds silly, but it absolutely works. And let’s be honest; anything’s better than a surly “Doctor’s office.”
Have a plan, but don’t sound scripted
Nobody wants to talk to the robot, but having a “roadmap” for your conversation is a very valuable tool to help you capture the information your team needs. It can also remind you to let your caller know what to expect at their first visit.
Whether it’s a paper or a digital form, it’s helpful to complete one for each new patient call. Make sure it’s streamlined to follow the flow of conversation naturally while giving you the ability to collect details like names, insurance information, birthdates, and email addresses. Use each prompt to find out as much as you can about your new friend as possible – it’ll be up to you to convey these vital bits to your team. They should be able to take over at the first visit and provide a seamless, personalized experience that results in a happy, healthy patient.
Lead the Scheduling Conversation
Establish some ground rules for where and when your practice generally schedules its new patients so that it becomes easier to plan for productivity. Establish your production goals and schedule around them, making sure that each workday has a balance of high, medium, and low production appointments, including your new patient spots!
Question: How do you convince a patient to take the spot you need them to take?
Answer: Make them think it’s their idea!
Once you’ve established rapport, leading the conversation becomes an easier task. Your goal is to guide the patient to your ideal appointment time by offering options to choose from. Start broad, then funnel down to the specific time slot in your schedule.
Here’s how that conversation goes:
**Scene: you have gathered all info, established a rapport with the new patient, and it’s time to schedule. You have openings for a new patient at 9 AM and 2 PM on Mondays and Thursdays, and 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM on Tuesdays and Fridays.**
You: “Dr. Jones is really looking forward to meeting you! Would you prefer this week, or next week?”
Patient: “Next week would be best.”
You: “Sure! And would you prefer early in the week, or later?”
Patient: “Tuesdays are really my best days.”
You: “Of course! Would you like a morning appointment, or an afternoon appointment?”
Patient: “Definitely a morning appointment.”
You: “Great! I have a spot reserved just for you with Dr. Jones at 10:30 AM this Tuesday. You’ll receive a ‘save the date’ email in just a few minutes, and you’ll receive a series of text messages to remind you of your appointment just prior to it. We are excited to have you as part of our dental family!”
You’ve allowed the patient to choose her date and time by leading her to the most appropriate time for that appointment type. She’s happy because she got to choose a time that fits her own schedule, and you’re happy because you are balancing the practice’s schedule to maintain productivity, efficiency, and give the patient an amazing experience.
And a bonus tip:
Hiring: How to Find the Right Person
Hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake in so many ways. Finding an experienced, skilled, and coachable person to join your front office team is often like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Bonus Tip #1: When you’re looking through a stack of resumes, what is there to make one candidate stand out from the rest? What if there was some indicator as to whether a candidate possesses the skills necessary to really connect with patients, be self-motivated, coachable, and most importantly, be a team player?
“Studies show that emotional intelligence predicts job performance 2 to 1 over any other job competency. And with Artificial Intelligence (AI) quickly moving into every field, including dentistry, the practices who will succeed are those who build up to include team members with this essential “superpower.”’ DentalPost.net
Do you have high EI? Take DentalPost’s EI assessment now and see how you stack up! Plus, check out all the free assessments DentalPost offers to you and your teams now, including the DISC personality assessment, Skills assessment, Core Values Assessment, and Workplace Culture assessment.
DentalPost.net is the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board, connecting and educating more than 850,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel. Founded by Tonya Lanthier, a Registered Dental Hygienist, DentalPost leads the industry in metric-based career matching including personality tests as well as values, skills and work culture assessments to assist in selecting the best match for each position.